Sporting KC

Status of Zusi, Besler, Espinoza and Feilhaber unclear for Sporting KC’s match Friday

Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber (center) was on the sideline at practice Tuesday because of a strained leg muscle.
Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber (center) was on the sideline at practice Tuesday because of a strained leg muscle. deulitt@kcstar.com

In the initial month of the 2017 season, Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes is yet to make a change to his starting lineup.

Some extenuating circumstances will test his uniformity Friday.

Three days before Sporting KC faces Toronto FC, Vermes was unsure exactly which weapons will be at his disposal. Midfielder Benny Feilhaber was sidelined at practice Tuesday because of a muscle strain in his leg, and Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are with the United States men’s national team, which plays a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama; and Roger Espinoza is with the Honduras national team, which hosts Costa Rica on Tuesday.

All four players have started each of Sporting Kansas City’s first three matches this season.

Vermes labeled Feilhaber questionable to travel for Friday’s match in Toronto. The team is scheduled to depart Kansas City on Wednesday afternoon. Feilhaber was standing on the sideline as Sporting KC practiced Tuesday, though he participated in a workout earlier in the morning.

“He was running and stuff like that, but we’re not pushing it right now from a soccer perspective,” Vermes said.

The availability of Zusi and Besler will depend on their workload in the Americans’ trip to Panama. The same for goes for Espinoza with Honduras.

The U.S. team is expected to travel to Florida after its match Tuesday. Vermes said Zusi and Besler will travel from there to Toronto. But it doesn’t mean he will use either player.

Toronto and Sporting KC are two of the four remaining unbeaten teams in MLS, posting identical 1-0-2 records.

“There’s a lot of different variables that go into making that decision,” Vermes said. “It’s never easy because more than likely if you’re a guy at that level, you’re pretty competitive and you want to play all the time.

“Sometimes that’s great, but other times it can be a problem because they’re overfatigued or whatever and they still want to play. That’s when you can get into trouble and you have to make some hard decisions sometimes.”

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